In my last post, the late former Russian Intelligence officer, Alexander Litvinenko named several political activists trained by the Russians in sabotage and terrorism techniques.
NZers should not be surprised to know that several locals have also allegedly undergone military and/or sabotage training behind the “former” Iron Curtain.
One who claimed to have trained in sabotage techniques and bomb making in the Soviet Union, was the late, Albert (Bert) Shipp.
By 1971, Shipp was secretary of the Wellington branch of the Railway Tradesman’s Association. In the ’80s he rose to national president of the organisation.
In 1980 Shipp appeared on PM Rob Muldoon’s list of SUP members active in the union movement.
By 1976 Shipp was Wellington Branch secretary of the SUP and a highly trusted comrade. It was probably shortly after this that he travelled to the Soviet Union.
Certainly, by the early ’80s Shipp was a member of the much smaller Lower Hutt branch of the ’80s. Maybe the intimacy of the tiny branch lead him to drop his guard as Shipp regularly breached party security.
Shipp often boasted to his comrades of the 12 months he had spent in the Soviet Union, training full time on bomb making, sabotage and terrorism techniques.
He was certainly believed by his comrades who were most impressed by his stories. His credibility was probably enhanced when he revealed the name of another comrade who had undergone similar training.
This man had a well deserved reputation as a thug and was later jailed for violent offending.
NZ was regarded as a propaganda vehicle by the Soviets (the anti nuclear stand being the prime example), rather than a country on the brink of violent revolution.
However Bert Shipp’s intimate knowledge of the capital’s rail system, would have made him an ideal saboteur, had NZ ever slipped into a pre-revolutionary state, or a political point needed to be made.
Shipp died, a relatively young man, in 1990.
Fortunately his claimed skills went unused, except possibly here.